In response to the harsh rhetoric against immigrants and the increased efforts to round up undocumented people and summarily ship them out, we have heard the increased use of the term ‘sanctuary’ as in ‘sanctuary cities’ and ‘sanctuary college campuses’. However, such places have no legal standing. Members of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) still have the legal authority to go anywhere and seize people they suspect of being undocumented. What the places that call themselves sanctuaries are doing is saying that they will not use their own police or other powers to cooperate with ICE in any way in identifying and rounding up potentially deportable people. In response, federal and state Republican governments are threatening to punish such sanctuaries financially for their defiance.
As this article from 2014 shows, the Obama administration also had a vigorous and harsh deportation program that was deporting close to 400,000 people per year, more than any president before him, in what some called Obama’s ‘deportation spree’, while hypocritically expressing sympathy for the pain caused to families.
Since taking the oath of office, Obama has deported immigrants at a faster rate than any other president in US history, nearly a record 2 million people. On a typical day, there are over 30,000 immigrants imprisoned in the world’s largest immigration detention system. Most deportees never see an attorney or have a hearing before a judge before they are expelled from the country. Deportation carries a high price for families and communities across America: one-quarter of all deportees are separated from their US citizen children and countless others from spouses and other family members.
Obama’s claim to sympathize with immigrant families’ “pain” obscures a troubling fact: while the review he ordered may lead to more “humane” treatment of some undocumented immigrants—a welcome if still-modest outcome—it will do nothing for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who get snared each year in the nation’s thickening national security and criminal enforcement webs. And these immigrants represent the majority of persons deported during the Obama era.
What Trump is doing is expanding Obama’s actions even further, so that people who now get caught for minor offenses like driving without a license or happen to be with someone who is picked up are also summarily deported, while earlier programs required them to have a serious offense to be targeted.
Since it has been the case for some time that there has been a net outflow of undocumented people from the US to Mexico, why has this issue become so potent? After all, mass deportations are costly and hurt the economy. The history of such deportation movements shows their racist roots and this time is no different.
The people backing this move don’t care that there is no flood of people pouring over the borders. It is clear that many Americans want increased deportations as part of their desire to stop the ‘browning’ of America. Note that of the many promises Trump made, the ones that he is acting on most quickly are the xenophobic and anti-Muslim ones that all send the signal that his real campaign slogan was ‘Make America White Again’: to increase deportations of people from Latin America, stop the entry of people from certain parts of the world that have brown and Muslim people, and build the wall with Mexico. They want to quickly reduce the number of brown people in the country.
You can be sure that this movement will spread beyond hostility towards people from just Latin American and Muslim majority countries. The attacks on other people of color, such as the shooting of two Indians in a bar in Kansas, killing one, and a white man who came to their aid.
Authorities have not called the shooting a hate crime, instead saying they are investigating to see if it was motivated by bias. But witnesses reported that Purinton hurled racial slurs at the two Indians and told them: “Get out of my country.” The shooting stirred anger and fear in India and among the South Asia diaspora in the United States, prompting some to link it to xenophobia spurred by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Parents and students in India began to worry that the United States was no longer a safe place for visiting Indian students, scholars and tech workers. The father of Madasani appealed Friday to “all the parents in India” not to send their children to the United States under “present circumstances.”
Many of Trump’s supporters want people of color to view the US as a hostile place that they should not want to enter. While the killer in this case apparently thought that the Indians were Iranians, you can be sure that the fervent supporters of Trump’s policies see any people of color as unwanted intruders in what they perceive as their country and want them out. These are Trump’s people. Do not expect him to speak out strongly against incidents like these or the drastic increase in anti-Semitic threats and vandalism. He and his spokespersons will issue milquetoast statements that will try to have it both ways, to avoid the criticism that he has said nothing while not angering his supporters.